As Nigeria moves close to the 2020 deadline for its 80 per cent financial inclusion target, First Bank Nigeria Limited, has said it plans to boost the efforts of the government by increasing the number of its agents from above 10,000 which it currently is to 20,000 before the end of the second half of 2019.
According to the Mannaging Director and Chief Executive of the bank, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, the bank is poised to ensure that banking services reach the more than 40 million adult Nigerians who are presently excluded from the financial system.
Adeduntan while speaking at the launch of its latest platform, the First Bank Whatapp Banking platform, said as a leading financial institution, the bank plans to ensure that it takes the lead in not only extending financial services to the unreached but also drive innovation in the industry.
According to him, First Bank has an excess of 10,000 agents spread through all parts of the country “and as today First Bank agents are operating in at least 755 out of the 774 local government areas in the country.
He said: “Our agents have also been empowered to open accounts within the ambit of what the law allows and it is actually assisting us in addressing the issue of financial inclusion. There is no other bank in this country that has this kind of presence and when you layer the fact that we have more than 10,000 agents over the number of branches that we have, we have 750 branches we are actually the bank that is fully entrenched in the socio economic fabric of the country and we are not relenting.
“Our plan is to increase the number of agents that we have over the next six months to nothing less than 20,000 and again that aligns with the government’s financial inclusion strategy. As we speak today more than 40 million Nigerians who do not have access to quality banking and with what we are doing with the agency banking, we would be assisting the government in addressing financial inclusion.”
Speaking on the Whatsapp Banking platform he said the new platform is designed to effectively and efficiently meet customers’ financial needs. To ensure the security of transactions on the platform, he said customers would be able to generate a WhatsApp banking PIN and all the transaction authentications would be done using a safe link, thereby ensuring the security of customers’ details.
“First Bank chat banking on WhatsApp is another significant milestone in our mission to provide convenient and fast payment solutions to our customers.
“It is one of the ways First Bank puts You First and enables you to stay connected with your contacts, loved ones, friends and finances all on the go while you chat with them because, at First Bank, we are driven to bolster relationships on all fronts, anywhere and anytime,” he said.
It is a new channel for access to our services; a convenient way to make payment and an easy-to-use banking application. Banking with First Bank on WhatsApp is secure, accessible and convenient. You can now carry out basic banking transactions such as inter and intra-bank funds transfer, pay bills, buy airtime, buy data and check your account balance on your WhatsApp.
According to Adeduntan, the digital banking offerings of the bank have been optimised to ensure ease of banking and convenience via other channels such as FirstMobile app, Firstonline, FirstMonie and USSD banking.